We’ve attended C2E2 – Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo this past April and are itching to keep this Comicon season going. What better way to continue other than Planet Comicon, Kansas City?!?
CEO/artist Jeremy Mohler and Design Director/writer Ed Lavallee are going to be at Booth #628 the whole weekend [May 20-22].
Get ready for three days of personalized sketches, signings and one daily giveaway exclusive for PCC attendees PLUS another online giveaway opened worldwide. That’s a lot of opportunities to win O.E. goodies!
Want to know what you can find at #OE’s booth?
– Blacklands #1;
– Elflord #1;
– Aegisteel #1;
– Pop Star Assassin #1-2;
– Bleedback #1-2;
– Evolution Cop #1-3;
– Revere (hardcover).
– Stories of Survival and Revenge (Inuit Folklore);
– Jeremy’s Art Book.
An array of original art, prints and sketch covers. Don’t hesitate to ask for a signed copy or for a live sketch while you’re there!
Do you remember Pop Star Assassin? Ed Lavallee has just tup the volume of the campaign: if you back the PSA Kickstarter campaign at the $10+ level from May 20 to 22 you’ll receive a free comic from the Outland Entertainment lineup.
Besides, all Backers attending the Planet Comicon can also stop by the booth for a FREE Pop Star Assassin print while supplies last.
It’s going to be a great weekend!
See you at Planet Comicon!
As I told you on the first article of this new segment, I Was a Comic Book Fan All Along and I Didn’t Know it for quite a while.
Things sort of slowly became clearer during my college days, but it wasn’t until starting to work in the biz that I truly began to dip my toes back in the dynamic comic book waters.
I still remember the moment of opening the folder with all the projects in the pipeline and flying through them all. One of the stories that was more developed at the time was Ithaca. I read it all in one go and was hungry for more.
At Outland Entertainment, I was presented a huge array of creatives each one with a very unique voice, be it as a writer or an illustrator. Mars 2577, Nightfell, Blacklands, Aegisteel, these are all projects that showed me the different facets of comic book creation.
It wasn’t just sci-fi or violence: no, there was room for a multiplicity of genres and visual styles of every kind.
When some of our IPs started coming out as webcomics on a weekly basis, I had to do some market research of what was going on in this field. That led me to multiple webpages like HiveWorks. And there I was baffled by the choice! So many artists, so many genres and styles of writing and artwork.
It was a big turning point: no longer did I had to rely solely on my friends reviews, but I had first-hand overview of so many projects! I got to interview all the creators from O.E., here for the blog. I have always loved the backstage! How someone became who he is professionally? Where did the idea of the story come from? And I was lucky enough to ask all these questions. In return I dare to say that my knowledge of the comic book universe increased exponentially!
And where has that lead me? To a huge appetite for reading more and more comics, of course! It wasn’t instantaneously, but I found myself perusing the comics section of the bookstores not only “out of professional interest” but because I found them inspiring.
This must be obvious for most of you , but before starting at Outland Entertainment, I didn’t know how similar the cinematographic language was to the one used in comics. They remind me of a really fancy and detailed storyboard. I know, I know! They’re much more than that! They’re an artistic medium of their own. But through the eyes of someone who came from an audiovisual production background they really hit home.
I suppose that being a transmedia creative producer also feeds this need. I’m now itching to work up a universe where a comic book will help explore things even further. And if you ever attended a book fair, you’ll see that all of these artistic forms are connected nowadays. Take the London Book Fair, for example. They run the London Book and Screen Week simultaneously. You have professionals from game studios at the actual fair and lots of extra events that join this two worlds, once so further apart, of pages and screens. Comics are finally being increasingly recognized for the dynamic and expressive format they are.
But I’ll talk about these changes further along the line!
Now, take a moment and check out the interviews I mentioned! There are a lot of creatives: authors, illustrators, designers…whose stories will inspire you.
And if you haven’t read the first post of this series give it a go and learn how I Was a Comic Book Fan All Along and Didn’t Know .
AEGISTEEL is the first wholly original property published by Outland Entertainment, written by Mat Nastos, illustrated by Alan Gallo and myself (Jeremy Mohler), and lettered by Ed Dukeshire.
I can’t begin to express how excited I am to have Outland publishing this beast and to have helped design and bring Mat’s world to life. It’s been a lot of fun having the chance to play in this world and I’m looking forward to sitting down and digging into the actual main series. I’m just now getting started on layouts for the first issue and man, it’s going to be fun!
AEGISTEEL has had something of an interesting course to life. I talk a lot about it over here, actually. I also share a lot of the character designs and concepts that I worked on with the writer, Mat Nastos, so be sure to check out that blog post.
A little bit about the world –
AEGISTEEL is a spellpunk adventure set in the world of the Aegisteel Empire, a society of steel and magic built on the backs of its soldiers and terrible war machines. Think of it as DIRTY DOZEN meets SMOKING ACES set in a war-torn SPELLPUNK world.
When the Theln Empire captures the ancient Aegisteel forges at Nelvynnal, veteran marksman Broderick Longbarrel is released from Blackgate Prison and given one last chance for redemption. Tasked with infiltrating the ancient and impenetrable fortress, Longbarrel ans five former death row inmates must succeed before the Theln can begin production of the giant war-golems that could shift the balance of the war.
Below are the layouts and some additional designs I did for the project –
And below are the first eleven pages, fully colored and lettered!
The book is also now available digitally over here!
You can also purchase the limited edition Amazing Las Vegas Convention cover in print here!
And you can also get a 14″x20″ poster over here!
Hope you like it!
Mat Nastos is a versatile artist who always manages to infuse his unique sense of humor into the countless projects he is involved with. He is known by his work as an artist in the cult-classic independent comic book, “ElfQuest”, and as a writer for film & TV as well as for his own novels. Fan of action packed stories with a sci-fi or steampunk twist, you won’t be surprised that from all the children shows out there, he worked for Disney Channel‘s “Phineas & Ferb”.
Mat, the big question: what did you want to be when you grow up?
My goal in life, from as early as I can remember, was to be a comic book artist when I grew up. Comics in general were my life: I read them, collected (read: horded) them, drew them…I started and ran the first comic book conventions in Hawaii in the 80s back when I was 11. Comics were my life and my driving goal had been to draw them. That spurred me to go to comic book school out in the middle of New Jersey when I graduated from High School.
I drew comics for a lot of years before transitioning over to film/TV and, eventually, to writing.
What was the first book you ever read (or was read to you)?
I remember my mom reading a lot of Dr. Seuss to me as a child, but nothing specific. I still have the very first comic I was given – “The Power of Warlock” #14. The first real book I remember reading was “The Hobbit” when I was about 6 or 7. That really stuck with me and opened the door to fantasy/sci-fi fiction for me. After I read that any the “Lord of the Rings” series, I went nuts and started reading everything I could get my hands on. Luckily, I had an older brother and mom who were also into that material and I’d read a lot of things they were.
Right around the same time, my family discovered the early Dungeons & Dragons game (late 70s) and I’ve been playing ever since.
And comics: which were your favorite ones?
I read EVERYTHING as a kid. Pretty quickly my collection of comics bloomed up into the thousands and then tens of thousands (now it rests at somewhere around 150,000 comics). When I was younger, my favorites were Elfquest, X-men, 2000AD, and Legion of Super-Heroes, but I wasn’t picky beyond that.
Nowadays, what can we find you reading?
I don’t read much in comics these days, and when I do they are generally trade paperbacks versus singles. The art of writing comics to actually be read as singles has become a bit of a lost art over the past 20 years or so and I find it a waste to attempt to follow series in that format. I pick up a lot of omnibus collections of material I was a fan of as a kid.
Outside of comics, I read an insane amount of things – tons of non-fiction, and at least 3-4 novels a week. Still a lot of sci-fi/fantasy more than anything else, although thrillers and any sort of action stories are finding their way onto my reading list as I begin to write more and more in those genres.
Who were your childhood heroes?
Most of my heroes were the men (and women) creating the material I was a fan of: George Lucas, Wendy Pini, John Byrne, George Perez, Stan Lee, Piers Anthony, Jim Kelly, Gary Gygax, Ed Greenwood, Chris Claremont…my dad.
And today? Who do you look up to?
I’ve been lucky enough that I still have a lot of the same heroes I did as a kid. I still have most of that sense of wonder and love I had as a kid.
Your first published work was in “The Big Book of Urban Legends” from Paradox Press in 1993. But what was the first thing you ever wrote?
My first published writing was a short fantasy story I wrote back in high school. I had an English teacher who was truly a terrible human being who went out of her way to put me down. Her abuse turned out to be a driving factor for me and I submitted a story I’d written in her class (and been given a “C” on!) to Fantasy Digest Magazine. They bought it and I was on my way!
After that, my writing was for my own comics – things like the Cadre, Elfsong, and Fionn.
My first “real” gig as a writer was the screenplay for the low-budget horror flick, “Stinger,” in 2002. Since then I’ve had 8 films produced.
Your writing spans from comic books to novels, video games to film and TV. Do you have a favorite?
Writing, in general, for me is a lot of fun. The most satisfying for me as a creator is probably novels because I have complete control over there. Good or bad, with a novel every aspect of it falls onto my shoulders. If it succeeds or fails, things are all on me.
The rest of the mediums all have their own positives, though, and comics will always be my first love. Working with a fantastic art as a collaborator is an incredibly fulfilling experience.
You have done the artwork, including the cover art for all your own books. Why?
I think it all goes back to control. So far, I’ve had very specific ideas of what I wanted on the novel covers and the easiest way to get those ideas out was to do them myself.
Does it ever backfire?
Not yet, knock on wood!
Your work in the comic world started with “Elfquest” comics for Warp Graphics, right? What made you enter this new universe of storytelling?
Well, my first comic work was on “The Big Book of Urban Legends,” and I had done quite a bit of indy comic work before Elfquest, including working as an assistant to Joe Orlando at the DC Offices while I was in art school.
Comics were my life-long love. Elfquest specifically was my favorite comics. Funnily enough, my biggest goal in going to art school was to draw Elfquest. I had always figured it would take me years (5, 10, or more!) to get a chance to work with the Pinis on Elfquest – they had never let anyone else draw the comic back when I was reading it, so my goal was a crazy fantasy at the time. It was mind-blowing to get a call from Barry Blair asking me if I wanted to work on Elfquest. I was still at the School of Visual Arts when he contacted me and it was easily one of the best days of my life.
There was never a doubt in my mind that I wasn’t going to work in comics.
“The Cestus Concern”, your first novel, was the #1 best selling Cyberpunk & Sci-Fi Adventure novel on Amazon for 7 consecutive months in 2013. How does it feel to have your work on the spotlight?
It was pretty crazy. Novel writing wasn’t something I had ever set out to do…in fact, when I started writing “The Cestus Concern” I’d never written more than a couple of short prose stories. Sure, I had written a bunch of material for TV/film and comics, but prose was so alien to me I wasn’t convinced I could even do it.
My whole goal with the book (and each once that’s followed) was to write something that I wanted to read. To write something fast, fun, and crazy. It’s been a great to see that so many other people have enjoyed the work as much as they have. As a storyteller, nothing is better than connecting with fans the way the Cestus books have.
Of all the projects you’ve worked on, is there one that stands out from rest? Why?
I’ve been lucky to work on a huge number of fun projects, so it’s hard to pick. Right now, the thing I’m the most in love with my Donner Grimm books. The first, “Man With The Iron Heart,” came out at the end of 2014 and I am finishing up the sequel, “The Unweaving,” right now. I love the action-adventure/pulp/weird war universe I’ve created for it and the characters are a lot of fun.
In comics, it’s the new Elflord series I’m working on. The artist, Tony Vassallo, is insanely good and the material we’re putting together isn’t like anything else being done in fantasy comics right now. The series is crazy good.
You own the license from Barry Blair’s projects. What made you take that leap?
Barry himself was the reason behind me picking up the rights to all of the material. We had been friends since the early 90s when he hired me to work for Warp Graphics on the Elfquest material, and we had very similar sensibilities . We started talking in 2007 about working together again and one of the things that came up was my love for so many of the characters he’d created, especially things like Elflord, Dragonforce, and Samurai. He said he was done telling those stories, but asked if I wanted to carrying on with their tales on my own. He turned over the rights to all the material to me in exchange for my promise to treat them like my own children.
We had been well on our way to doing a ton of new material together when he passed in early 2010. It was a crushing blow for me and it took almost 5 years for me to get back to the point where I felt like I was ready to start again. To be able to put the work out FOR Barry since I couldn’t do it WITH him.
Outland Entertainment is working closely with you not only to bring several of Barry Blair’s titles into digital format but to actually reboot some of them.
What are you most excited about this endeavor?
The most exciting part of working with Outland is having the chance to bring Barry’s work back out into the public eye. Barry was a creative dynamo who generated a ton of fun material in a dizzying array of genres. He worked in every possible genre you can image: sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, horror, satire, action/adventure, erotica…you name it and he produced work in it.
It’s been a shame that his work has disappeared from the comic industry, especially since his work and company (AIRCEL) was such a huge force in the 80s and early 90s.
Having the opportunity to make that work available once more is a thrill and an honor for me because I was a huge fan of Barry’s work, as well as having been his friend for more than two decades.
And now a peek into the Future. Can you tell us what project(s) are you most looking forward to?
I’ve got a lot of work coming out this year. Right now I’m finishing off sequels to both my prose series with “The Cestus Corruption” and “The Unweaving.”
In comics, I’m writing Rob Liefeld’s new “Brigade” series for Image and “Blindside” for Marat Mychaels. For Outland, I’m writing a series based on my Aegisteel fantasy stories with Alan Gallo as the artist; Elflord with Tony Vassallo, and a brand new Dragonforce series that will be drawn by Richard Pace (you heard it here first!).
It’s going to be a fantastic year!
It sure looks like it! Thanks Mat for taking time to let us get a glimpse of your vast creative work!
It’s funny how many projects get started but never finished.
Aegisteel is one of those projects. I worked on it with the intention of designing the characters and illustrating a graphic novel. Unfortunately, the creator and I had some minor creative differences and I had a few life events that pushed me in a different direction. I reluctantly quit the project after the character design phase.
At the end of 2012, I was doing a lot of work with Mike DeVito and Jon Conkling of Th3rd World Studios. They approached me about working on a really cool “sorcery punk/fantasy” world that author Mat Nastos created. After looking over the material, I thought it sounded fun. It had a lot of elements I like about fantasy: magic armor, creatures of all sorts, and giant monsters. Plus ancient races, ruins, and weapons. Definitely up my alley, so to speak.
I got busy designing the main characters for the book. I’m still proud of the work and a little disappointed that I didn’t end up illustrating the world.
First up is the main character in his armor, Morgan. This was a really fun piece to do as I wanted to show the character fully armored and without the armor, so I did a sort of cut-away. I had a lot of fun designing the armor for this guy.
I also designed a bunch of different characters that were part of Morgan’s party of adventurers: Artis, Eckhart, Laerwynn, Longbarrel, and Rowena.
The final character, Breck, was where Mat and I really disagreed. At the time, I was reading the reboot of Rob Liefeld’s Glory character, and I was in love with the idea of a fierce female warrior that wasn’t a waif, as so many comic heroines are. My initial design was a tough, beefy character–massive, stocky, and heavily muscled. The first design was the original; the second design was the final corrected design – honestly, there didn’t end up being a huge difference and I did like the final design. I had to slim up the waist, arms, and legs and we were essentially golden.
Here’s the lineup so you can get a sense of their height and size.
I also did a couple different logo designs, which I rather liked. The second one was my favorite of the bunch.
It was fun doing creative development for Aegisteel, but ultimately I had to move on. There was a perfect storm of events at the time–the birth of my second child, some minor creative differences, and getting involved with the now-defunct publisher Noble Beast (which launched Outland into digital publishing).
It’s a neat world. If Mat and the guys at Th3rd World manage to do something with it, I’m certain to buy the book and read it!